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Top Five Things To Look For In The 2011 NFL Draft

Although this won't be 49er specific I thought it would be interesting to post this type of article moving into day one of the 2011 NFL Draft. There is a lot of uncertainty heading into round one today. Some of this has to do with the CBA issue, while other factors include the strength of the draft class.

This is an extremely deep draft class, however, there aren't those 10 players that stand out above everyone else. In previous drafts you have elite of the elite; heralded franchise type QBs, dominant defensive linemen, the next "Barry Sanders" etc... This draft really doesn't have those type of players. Instead, you are looking at a draft class that goes at least four rounds deep with solid talent.

This all means that this is going to be an extremely exciting draft.

Top Five Things To Look For

5. Will NFL Front Offices Change Their Draft Plans Due To Judge Nelson's Ruling To End The Lock Out?

This has to be an extremely hectic time for NFL front offices. Judge Nelson's decision to end the lock out and not grant a stay should have a great amount of impact heading into round one tonight. It would make sense that teams are going to change their plans because the variables that they use in making a selection have changed.

For example, The Arizona Cardinals may not feel as much of a need to draft Blaine Gabbert with the 5th pick because they can now go after a veteran signal caller. This could have far ranging consequences for the San Francisco 49ers because Arizona would most likely swipe up Patrick Peterson instead of Gabbert. Our 49ers may not be in such a hurry to get a QB in the 2nd round or trade up to the late first to get one. With the NFL year now underway the 49ers do have the ability to contact teams about Josh Johnson, Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer. The "need" factor up towards the top of the draft has changed as well. Teams may not have to pick solely for need fearing that free agency wasn't going to happen.

4. How Far Will Da'Quan Bowers Fall? Some experts had Bowers as the #1 overall prospect a couple of months ago. Now, worries about his knee has dropped Bowers stock. NFL sources are saying it is not whether he will be ready to play come training camp, rather they worry about his long term prognosis; and ability to play long term.

You cannot spend a top 10 pick on a player that you think may only be able to contribute for 4-5 seasons; it just isn't worth it. That said, I do not see Bowers falling past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 20; in fact, New England may select him at 17. One prediction that I will give you is that Bowers will not be drafted in the top 10 and the quickest he goes is to the Detroit Lions at 13. How would you feel about the 49ers trading back into the late 1st round if Bowers were to slip that far?

3. How Will The Washington Redskins Play The 10th Pick: The Skins' lost their 3rd and 4th round picks due to trades. After they pick at #10 Washington will not be selecting until the 144th pick. This means that Washington is going to seriously consider trading down. Add the fact that their top four targets, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, A.J. Green and Julio Jones, are most likely going to be gone at 10 makes me believe that they would take less in order to acquire a pick or two.

Teams that would be looking to trade up to 10 include; Minnesota, Detroit, Miami, New England and possibly Kansas City. I see the Redskins pulling the trigger unless one of those four players listed above are available

2. Will We See Any Draft Day Trades That Include Players?: I think that there is a decent chance we are going to see this develop as the draft plays out. We won't see any player transactions during round one. What we will see if teams on the phone with one another Thursday Night and Friday Morning to gauge the situation. You are looking at a nice amount of players that could be moved, however, none of them are really worth a 1st round selection. Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, Marion Barber, Steve Smith, Chad Ochocinco etc.., could all be at new addresses when the dust settles Saturday.

I honestly believe that teams are going to go into the draft looking at it from an individual and competitive standpoint. They are not going to take the pro league stance when taking that stance could have a negative impact on their teams. I don't think that the San Francisco 49ers want to be caught off guard if Seattle decides to get on the phone with Cincinnati in regards to Carson Palmer, and they are sitting with their thumbs in their nose expecting Seattle to do the same. It just doesn't make sense to me for them to do that.

1. Is The Recent News About Cam Newton Being The Certain #1 Pick A Smokescreen? Normally by this point the #1 pick is signed, sealed and delivered. But, with the CBA issue that is not the case this season. There remains a lot of uncertainty in regards to the #1 pick. Last night it was reported that the Panthers were deciding between four players (Cam Newton, Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green and Von Miller), however, late last night ESPN reported that sources from within the Panthers front office indicate that Newton will be their selection.

Is this a smokescreen? I am not sure. What I will say is that Carolina really had no idea where they were going up until about four days ago, but now they have a better idea. The problem is that we really don't know what that idea is. I concluded in my final mock draft that Carolina will go with the upside of Cam Newton, and that hasn't changed. That said, the safest top 10 pick would be Patrick Peterson. How many top 10 corners have turned out to be busts since the common draft began in 1970? Not many, enough to count on one hand. Carolina could surprise the world and take either Von Miller, who they are really high on, or Patrick Peterson.

Tell me what you are looking for during this draft? What has caught your attention the most? It doesn't have to be 49er related because this draft has uncertainty written all over it.